Inside Climate News by Maria Gallucci
A highly touted bill to kick-start Maryland's offshore wind energy industry died in the State Senate Finance Committee on Monday, the last day of the legislative calendar, essentially killing the measure until next year.
The delay angered environmental advocates. "The offshore wind bill was our top energy priority, and legislators couldn't get it done," Tommy Landers, director of Environment Maryland, an advocacy group, said in a statement on Tuesday. "That's a big, big shame for our future, our air quality, our health, and our economy."
The bill failed to come to a vote in the 11-member committee. Thomas Middleton, the panel's chair, said members would not vote unless the legislation had the majority support of the committee, Offshore Wind Wire reported.
Opponents have long-held concerns about the costs of building offshore wind farms to ratepayers.
The Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2012, which passed 88 to 47 in the House of Delegates on March 30, was a signature policy of Gov. Martin O'Malley. It would have required electric utilities to source 2.5 percent of their electricity from offshore wind projects—of which the United States has none. A similar measure last year withered in the same Senate committee.
O'Malley said he would push the wind measure for a third time next year.
The bill is seen as Maryland's best chance at capturing a slice of the coming manufacturing job boom in offshore wind. A recent Environment Maryland report found that deploying wind farms along Maryland's coast could create "thousands" of jobs for nearly 900 Maryland companies, especially those that could supply iron, steel, bolts and cables for turbines, connect towers to the sea floor and hook transmission lines to the electrical grid.
"This was a tough year for energy and climate policy in the General Assembly. But it is absolutely essential that Maryland tap into the wind blowing off our Atlantic Coast to power our homes and businesses. It's only a matter of time," Landers said.